At an engagement to celebrate the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s one-year old Diplomatic Academy, The Duke of Cambridge paid tribute to The Queen’s untiring work in foreign relations, which she has sustained for 64 years.
In a speech in front of diplomats and their prodigies, Prince William spoke of Her Majesty’s key role played in working with other countries, and how he and the FCO shared common values.
“As The Queen approaches her 90th birthday, it is worth reflecting on the unparalleled role that The Queen has played in foreign relations and with world leaders during 63 years of unbroken service to the nation and Commonwealth.
“This is the same of duty to the nation and commitment to the wider common good that I see in Her Majesty’s diplomats as I travel around the world.
“That association between the Diplomatic Service and The Queen holds true for me, too. In many ways, your mission is also mine…I thought I might therefore take a moment to say something about what I interpret to be our shared values: internationalism, tolerance and service.”
He went on: “Please know how grateful Her Majesty and all the Royal Family are for all you do to project this country and our values overseas – I know that our gratitude mirrors the nation’s gratitude to you. You have much to be proud of.”
Air Ambulance pilot, William, was at the FCO to present awards to embassy staff from across the globe who have shown leadership, creativity and innovation, and other attributes when supporting the learning of others at the department’s Diplomatic Academy.
The institution was opened in 2015 and provides career development training for FCO staff who want to gain greater knowledge about topics ranging from economics to defence and security.
During the visit the Duke met staff working across a diverse range of posts, and learnt more about how they operate as a global network to represent UK interests abroad.
In the basement offices of Whitehall, the Prince visited the crisis management centre to see how staff respond under pressure and time constraints to terrorist acts or natural disasters involving British nationals.
The Duke chatted to the rapid deployment team who are on standby to leave the country at two-hour’s notice, and flew out to Tunisia last June after the terrorist beach attack killed 30 British holidaymakers.
William told the group “What I saw from the outside, it seemed extremely well handled,” and before leaving told them “well done”.
Britain’s close allies over the centuries and our sense of adventure: “For centuries, Britain has been an outward looking nation. Hemmed in by sea, we have always sought to explore what is beyond the horizon.
“That sense of mission and curiosity is something that I know continues to drive our economy, our cultural and educational exports and our Armed Forces and Diplomatic Service. And wherever we go, we have a long and proud tradition of seeking out allies and partners.
Some have interpreted the Duke’s remarks as a pro-EU speech, on the day that the Prime Minister begins his final round of negotiations on an EU deal for the UK. William, 33, spoke of Britain as an ‘outward looking nation’ with a ‘proud tradition of seeking out allies’, also commenting:
“In an increasingly turbulent world, our ability to unite in common action with other nations is essential. It is the bedrock of our security and prosperity and is central to your work.
“Right now, the big questions with which you wrestle – in the UN, NATO, the Middle East and elsewhere – are predicated on your commitment to working in partnership with others.”
Kensington Palace had to deny claims that this was a pro-EU speech, calling the remarks ‘completely coincidental’.
“This speech is not about Europe. He does not mention the word Europe once,” said a spokesperson.